BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana University officials said in the fight for racial justice that the institution is standing up for what is right and good.
That means reexamining the names of its buildings and structures across all campuses.
On Friday, IU President Michael McRobbie announced that the Intramural Center on Bloomington’s campus will be renamed William Leon Garrett Fieldhouse in honor of the legendary IU basketball player. Garrett, a Shelbyville native who died in 1974 in Indianapolis, was one of the first black players to regularly play in the Big Ten. The pioneer for social justice also played at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis and for the Harlem Globetrotters.
The university said this change is just the beginning. They are asking a renaming committee to start a systematic review of named buildings and structures on all of IU’s campuses. It’s an effort to make IU inclusive to everyone.
“That our faculty, staff and students of color, indeed, of all of us who at this public university, should be free to enter any public building without concern that it honor someone who would have held them in contempt on account of their race,” McRobbie said.
In recent years, Jordan Hall, named after former IU president David Starr Jordan, has been scrutinized. The university said it’s one of the first buildings they are considering renaming. However, some alumni said that’s not enough.
Alexandra Rudig, a recent IU graduate, said, “We have a mural in Woodburn Hall 100. And, Section 9 of that mural depicts the KKK. It is, of course, a part of the mural because it is part of Indiana’s history. But, you know we do not need those depictions that are going to make students and staff uncomfortable.”
The Thomas Hart Benton painting depicts a burning cross and the Ku Klux Klan. It has been debated for years and it is no longer used in a classroom setting.
Currently, the university said, the mural will remain for historical purposes and to be a lesson on the mistakes of the past.
Chuck Carney, IU director of media relations, said, “It is intended to stay there as a documentation as something that is not the best of our past and certainly address where that may continue to be a problem ongoing. So it is important to grapple with the past, but also think about how it affects the future.”
For now, the university said its future has a clear focus.
McRobbie said, “Indiana University holds fast through the fundamental values of equity and inclusion, we cannot in any way be a part of perpetuating this legacy.”
The university said the renaming committee will take its time examining these buildings and welcomes input from students, staff and alumni as the process unfolds.